Men in Skirts

This is the end of our first week in Fiji.  The next time you hear from me we’ll have landed back in Sydney, hopefully safe and sound.

We have spent a lot of time with some lovely people, both in groups and individually.  At one point I caught myself saying, “When we come back”.  I’m not sure where that came from but I have to be honest, I think we’d be open, at least for some more visits.

I had a ball at the ladies meeting that lasted pretty much all day. It’s amazing how we can relate when we have the same Father. There were so many stories of their faithfulness to God and His faithfulness to them.  Many told of how they’d come to the Lord, or how their family had. We had a lot to talk about (and a lot to eat…..and oh yes, there might have been some Fijian dancing as well).

If you’ve looked on a map because you’re as clueless as I am about where in the world Fiji is, you’ll find it WAAAAY out in the middle of the South Pacific, sort of all alone unless you zoom in. Then you’ll realize there are a myriad of islands out here, many claiming Fiji as their country, but also lots of others, with names at least I have never heard of. Yesterday we went to the museum and saw the tiny little catamaran dugouts that even still occasionally sail from island to island.  The movie “Castaway” with Tom Hanks was filmed on one of these islands.

This morning Tony preached at two churches, the first one full of people from all over these various islands.  Tongans, Samoans, other Fijian islands, many coming here for higher education, and finding Christ in the process   We heard the beautiful testimony of a Tongan couple who prayed their way into scholarships and have just graduated here, she with a MA in Business and he as a Physical Therapist.  The give all the credit all to God. Another story I didn’t get all the details of is a young man who came here from that really big country that’s been in the news with Trump lately, and thru an unfortunate turn of events he was financially destroyed.  Somebody found out and he was led to Christ by these folks and is building back his life.  His smile is infectious.

That service was at 7:00 am.  Then we had a BIG breakfast with everyone and hastened over to another place and had another service in a more established church.   Again, the room was filled with beautiful people, wearing phenomenal clothing.  I tried not to keep staring at all the gowns, and like last week, the men were all in Sulas, which I’m told are a lot cooler than trousers. The music was superb ,even when we suddenly went acapella because the power went out, again.   Tony talked at length after the service with the Elders about bringing in seminary training as well as our discipleship book, Anagaion.  Pray for these life-changing decisions.

I was also impressed to find so many levels of society here that are dedicated Christians.  Hotel maids, waitresses, taxi drivers and then all the way along to highly educated and confident professors, sophisticated world travelers who could discuss things where I was struggling to keep up, and could rattle off countries where they had children and grandchildren.  One of the pastors is a former Ambassador to Japan!  Several other pastors are high up in a number of Para-church organizations as well as being successful businessmen.  Christianity is really for everyone here.

And now we’re ready for the third part of our trip, having completed our time with the churches, and with a good start on the “writing” we wanted to get done.  Tomorrow we’ll board some sort of boat, (hope it’s not a dugout) and toss and bob across a shark filled straight to Beqa Island, (pronounced for some reason “Benga”.) They say it’ll take 45 minutes and the seas will be ‘high’……oh joy.   We hope we arrive dry and in time to have several days of more writing but also some sun and fun in the ocean and surrounds.  We’ll let you know how it goes.

I haven’t mentioned the food, which you know we love. Well……all I can say is AMAZING!  I’m going to be cooking up some KoKonDa (fish marinated in lime juice and coconut). Everyone here drinks the famous (and reportedly robustly healthy) Fiji water, but I am sticking to “Boo”, or raw coconut with a straw.

Again, all I can say about Fiji is that God is here and is at work in ways we don’t often see.  We have been blessed and encouraged. As I’m typing this in the hotel room, I can hear a team of gospel singers belting it out just a few blocks away.  Last night we went down and listened to them.  We can’t understand the words because they’re in Fijian, but we can certainly understand the Spirit of God.

I learned the word for “Goodbye” today but have already forgotten it.  I’m taking that as a sign that maybe I’m not meant to say goodbye to this place!

Laters, Marsha

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